A national grant to a Des Moines-based grass-roots health improvement project will help more local children breathe more easily. Healthy Homes Des Moines -- a project assisting low-income families whose children suffer from asthma -- has received a $250,000 BUILD Health Challenge grant. 

The grant will enable the project, begun in 2015, to move into its second phase of work in Des Moines to remediate homes. HHDSM is one of 19 community projects nationally to receive additional funding from BUILD 2.0 in the 2017-2019 term. 

Mid-Iowa Health Foundation and Telligen Community Initiative were among two of the 12 national funding partners for the BUILD 2.0 collaboration. 

The initial project, called Healthy Homes East Bank, targeted deteriorating housing in the Capitol Park, Martin Luther King Jr. Park, and Capitol East neighborhoods, where moisture, mold and pests have led to elevated rates of asthma. The project was expanded last summer as Healthy Homes Des Moines to handle referrals throughout Des Moines. 

Partners in the project include the Polk County Housing Trust Fund, Polk County Health Department, Mercy Medical Center, Broadlawns Medical Center, UnityPoint Health, the city of Des Moines, Viva East Bank, the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Polk County Public Works and Des Moines Public Schools. 

Through HHDSM, households with children suffering from asthma receive home repairs to address asthma triggers, and families receive tailored health education to self-manage asthma and maintain a healthy home. Children with developing lungs are particularly vulnerable to experiencing asthma symptoms. 

“Our goal is to make major changes in upstream health initiatives to improve the lives and health of children in our community,” said Suzanne Mineck, president of Mid-Iowa Health Foundation. “With the announcement of Healthy Homes Des Moines as one of the BUILD 2.0 initiatives, more work can be done to strengthen the support of our children who are at the highest risk and make a real impact in their lives.”